(CNS): The premier called for tolerance and respect for human rights when he spoke at an anti-gay rally Sunday. Alden McLaughlin told an audience at the religious event, billed as supporting biblical family values, that his government won’t introduce same-sex marriage but he also warned against creating divisions in Cayman over the controversial issue. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, however, implied that the current government had already crossed the line with the recent ruling by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal that same-sex spouses can be lawful dependents on work permits.
Bush described the IAT decision as a “weak link”, as he suggested it was a policy decision by government.
Speaking at the event in the Lion’s Centre, McLaughlin explained that the decision was based on the law and applied only in specific narrow circumstances. He said that the IAT ruling had not impacted the Constitution or the marriage law, and Cayman still had the right to hold fast to the Christian concept of marriage between one man and one woman.
But he also spoke about government’s obligation under the law to protect everyone from discrimination. He said section 16 of Bill of Rights and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protects basic human rights for everyone, protecting them from government discrimination against religion, gender, nationality and sexual orientation.
“As a people, we have to be careful of losing the very thing we cherish by being intolerant and inflexible,” the premier said. “I am not here this evening to try to change anybody’s beliefs on either side of this controversial issue. What I urge is that we consider Christ’s teachings of tolerance with regards to how we treat each other.”
He urged the audience of around 700 people, dominated by members of the Cayman Adventists congregations, to step back and ask themselves what Jesus would have done. Noting that he was not a theologian, he said what he knew was that Christianity taught love, grace and acceptance. He said that people had to respect the local culture but respect had to be commanded through example not demanded.
“Just as I will not allow same-sex marriage to be forced upon us, neither will I allow hatred and bigotry to drive divisions between our own people or those who come to live and work here. It is wrong and it is unchristian,” he said, adding that the community could be confident that the Constitution would not be undermined.
By contrast, Bush was highly critical of the Constitution and made it clear he believed the IAT decision was based on policy – implying it was a political position of the government. He said his party, the Cayman Democratic Party (formerly the UDP), does not discriminate but it would not support same-sex marriage, same-sex unions or allow anything to impinge the local culture. He said the IAT decision was an arbitrary ruling or policy decision and pressed home the idea that the UK is putting pressure on Cayman to allow same-sex unions.
Bush suggested that other problems would “arise now” because of the IAT decision and insisted that the government would not allow a board to make such a ruling if it did not support the policy.
“We have taken the first step as a country. Shame! They say they had to do it by law. Well, what else are they going to recognise by law,” he said to loud applause.
The religious rally, which included a line-up of speakers opposed to any kind of right for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to have their relationships recognised in law, was organised by a consortium of churches across the island.
No one from the LGBT community was invited to speak at the event, though a very small group of people calling for equality for all peacefully raised banners and rainbow flags across the street from the Lion’s Centre, where the rally was held.
Category: Local News